Abi Wright, founder of Europe’s leading spa booking agency Spabreaks.com, was born in Newton Abbot in Devon. With no formal business training and no stand-out academic record, she has a vivid memory of her careers advisor telling her that she wouldn’t ever amount to anything. It was a galvanising moment in Abi’s education that continues to inform her drive and encouragement of other individuals in their careers today.
It was during her time as sales and marketing manager for The Peter Michael Collection that Abi had her lightbulb moment, realising that there was an opportunity to change the way spas were marketed, and to alter the perception of spas by working with them to help realise their commercial potential whilst still showcasing the integrity of the industry.
In early 2008, Abi launched Spabreaks.com with a team of two interns, just four months after her first son was born. Having started the company in the middle of a recession, Spabreaks.com reached the number two position in The Sunday Times Virgin Fast Track 100 in 2012 following revenue growth from £250k in 2009, to £3.9m in 2010, £6.8m in 2011 and £11m in 2012. By 2018 turnover reached over £25m.
Today Spabreaks.com sends more than 6000 people on spa days and breaks each week, and has a customer database of more than one million people. The number of spas they work with now exceeds 900 in the UK and overseas; and the team has grown to more than 90 members of staff.
The founding principle of Spabreaks.com was to make spa experiences more accessible to anybody and everybody who wanted to go. Abi wanted to bring back the ancient purpose of spas as places of sanctuary for mind and body. However, she also wanted to balance those principles with commercial viability, proving that integrity and business success could go hand in hand. That meant creating accessible booking and communications systems, a variety of price points, a wide range of geographical options, a dynamic marketing strategy and working closely with spa destinations to create spa experiences that really showcased their attributes. In short, Abi and her team pride themselves on marketing spas with commercial passion.
For Abi however, accessibility has also meant challenging outdated and damaging limitations within the spa industry. In particular, she and her team at Spabreaks.com have worked to break down barriers and drive change in the industry approach to treating anyone with or recovering from cancer, or with any other illness or disability.
After serving a 2 year tenure on the Board of the Spa Association and feeling like progress is really being made to bring identity and purpose to the organisation, Abi is looking forward to working alongside new and old colleagues for the coming 2 years.